...but some are more equal than others.
George Orwell’s famous slogan in Animal Farm is still relevant today and perhaps it always will be, but what exactly do we expect from modern slogans about equality?
To begin with, allow me to make a minor discursion into the realms of blogging. The people responsible for the blogs in my blogroll and those who leave comments here and elsewhere are some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever encountered. No that’s not flattery, it is an assertion about many educated people who have seen something of life and have drawn worthwhile conclusions.
I don’t necessarily have a personal allegiance to all those worthwhile conclusions, but as they are rooted in lives different to mine that isn’t important. What is important is that a decent education and a few decades of experience seem to produce many people worth listening to, far more than we ever come across in the mainstream media.
In a hierarchical society this feels odd, because the governing classes and their chosen experts are still supposed to hold the aces as far as informed thinking is concerned. The trouble is we know this is not the case. So much so that it has become somewhat embarrassing.
Equality is a political mantra which seems just as likely to prevent genuine equality as promote it. As in Animal Farm, the equality mantra can be subverted and used to promote inequality. One thing we have learned since the digital world shook up mass communication is how limited our governing classes really are. They should be smart but don't seem to have the time or the inclination. Or they leave it to tame experts who gave up on smart in favour of plausible because that is how the political winds blow.
An important driver for all this seems to be time. Many people seem to spend a considerable amount of time mulling over the infinite complexities of real life. Not in a concentrated session of deep thinking, but at odd moments throughout the day. Any pause in the flow of daily life and the musing self seems to wake up, pick up a thread and follow it until daily life resumes its sway. It may only be a few minutes, it may be longer and the threads may not join up, but it seems to be a common habit which over time adds up to a rounded point of view.
The joy of it is not to be found in new certainties, but new possibilities, not in joining a popular narrative but in standing apart to avoid the crap, not in some indecisive waffle but in insights which may be no more than finding a better word or phrase. Even these tiny steps are pleasing, encouraging enough to explore further and even make a slight shift in perspective. Sometimes that does happen, that shift in perspective. Gosh – how radical is that?
A grotesquely overweight man lumbers into the supermarket, a car brakes sharply, a van roars by, popular music blares from a passing car, another terrorist incident takes the media by the throat, the aroma of coffee stirs a memory, a child’s cry stirs another, a politically correct loon has yet another rant about something unimportant, a financial scandal erupts, a bee buzzes past the window and a politician says something silly - again.
All these mundane happening and countless others stimulate the musing mind and it is surprising how often the results are worthwhile. Surprising because we mainly hear from those who have less to say but a public platform from which to say it.
So what has that to do with equality? To my mind this issue has been growing for many decades. The internet has merely given it a good hard nudge. The covert message embedded in the political notion of equality is that even a whole lifetime of experience, knowledge, understanding and analysis is worth nothing if you are not on the official stage where some are more equal than others.
You are intelligent and you have a lifetime of experience to draw on. I know that and so do you, but the political game cannot accept it. The effects of mass education, mass communication and economic growth have outstripped our antiquated political ways. Not completely because a few people still read the Guardian and many more watch TV. In their obsolete world we still have our intellectual superiors and their ideas must outweigh ours because that is the very essence of hierarchy.
And yet many of us look on with ever increasing incredulity while those who are more equal than we will ever be strut their ignorant stuff on a profoundly unequal stage.